11 Aug 2008
Featuring news from Microvision, II-VI, IPG Photonics, Plastic Logic and more.
• The PicoP display engine under development by Microvision for vehicle displays, pico projectors and wearable displays is moving closer to commercialization, according to the company. Initial quantities of PicoP displays are now expected to become available in the first half of 2009 with higher volumes following in the second half of that year, later than originally intended partly due to longer development cycles for the green laser sources needed by the device. Increasing expenditure in the run-up to the introduction of PicoP affected Microvision's second-quarter financial performance, inflating the company's net loss to $9.3 million from $6.3 million. Revenues slipped slightly to $1.6 million during Q2 2008, compared to $2.7 million for the same period in 2007.
• ULIS, a developer of infrared vision sensors for civilian and military applications, has signed a five-year contract with Sagem Défense Sécurité to supply major weapon sights, handheld equipment and military programmes for cameras, including the French army's Future Infantry Soldier System (FELIN). Under the agreement, ULIS, a subsidiary of Sofradir, will deliver its uncooled 384 x 288 25 µm microbolometers, with the first delivery due at the end of the year. The contract also provides for an extension to supply other high-performance uncooled infrared products for several military programmes and new markets.
• The infrared optics business of II-VI improved its financial position and operating performance during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008. Sales for the IR business area rose by 23% compared with the same period last year to $43.6 million, and the segment recorded a 20% rise for 2008 as a whole. The company indicated that it is focused on another year of double-digit organic growth for its IR business in the coming year. Quarterly revenues for the whole of the II-VI group increased 31% to a record $91.8 million, and net income reached just under $15 million.
• LINOS reported revenues of €43.7 million ($65 million) in the first half of 2008, a decrease of nearly 6% over the first half of the previous year. The reduction was attributed to the economic slowdown in the printing field, the weakness of the market in the semiconductor equipment operations and the postponement of orders. Operating profit fell by 35% to €3.7 million. The company predicts increased revenue for the second half of 2008, in part due to an intensive cost-management programme, although developments in the semiconductor industry and to the general economic environment are recognized as being significant factors in the coming period.
• Planar Systems, a US supplier of specialty displays, recorded sales of $75 million in Q3 2008, and made an overall profit of $315,000. The company's medical business unit experienced a revenue decline of 8%, and the company has announced the sale of its medical interests to NDS Surgical Imaging for $34 million in cash. Planar will be engaged in a large work effort during the fourth quarter to realign its resources, and will take actions to improve profitability and cash flow according to a company statement.
• The Coherent manufacturing plant in Auburn, US, is expected to close with the loss of 144 employees, according to local reports. The move follows significant restructuring undertaken recently by the lasers and optics developer, which previously agreed to sell some of its Auburn optics manufacturing operation to Research Electro-Optics, a privately owned optics manufacturing and technology company. That agreement is due for completion by the middle of 2009.
• Brush Engineered Materials reported that strong growth in sales from photonics applications during Q2 2008, including LEDs for automotive, medical and back-lighting applications, helped to offset a decline in the market price of ruthenium, an important material in the company's products for the media market. Sales from the company's Advanced Material Technologies and Services segment rose 3% to $125.4 million compared to $121.3 million in the second quarter of the prior year, although the group's combined operating profit was almost unchanged at $4.8 million.
• The first commercial product from Plastic Logic is expected to become available in early 2009, following an injection of $50 million from existing investors including Oak Investment Partners and Amadeus Capital Partners. Development of thin, lightweight, low-power plastic displays by the Cambridge University spin-out has seen the opening of a California headquarters this year, along with construction of a fabrication plant in Dresden, Germany, that is due to open in September 2008.
• IPG Photonics will purchase the remainder of its majority-owned subsidiary NTO IRE-Polus from company founder Valentin Gapontsev and Igor Samartsev. NTO IRE-Polus currently provides IPG with component manufacturing capacity and sells products to customers in Russia and neighbouring countries. The purchase price for the 31.6% ownership interests is $6.1 million, to be paid in unregistered shares of IPG common stock. IPG expects the transaction to be accretive to the earnings of IPG.
• RPMC Lasers has become a new distributor for Jenoptik products in North and South America. The US-based distributor supplies single emitter products from 620 nm to 3 µm, along with unmounted bars, conductively cooled packages, microchannel cooled stacks, high-power fibre-coupled devices and turn-key laser systems.
• Picarro has appointed KNJ Engineering as a distributor of its instruments in South Korea. KNJ Engineering will sell and support Picarro gas and isotope analysers for environmental applications, including detection of greenhouse gases, CO2, CH4 and H2O.
• Tessera Technologies' chairman, president and chief executive officer Bruce McWilliams is transitioning to a new role as chief strategy officer. Henry Nothhaft, current vice chairman of the board, becomes president and chief executive officer. McWilliams will focus on strategic issues facing the company, including growing its intellectual property and expanding its presence in the debate over public policy issues.